Matter Chatter

Strangers on a Plane

I have a confession. I love to talk with strangers. As a child you are told never to talk to (or take candy from) strangers, but now that I’m a grown woman, I have thrown this childhood no-no to the wind.

There is this little burst of giddiness that erupts inside when I can sit and dig deep into the life of a complete stranger who I don’t know from Adam. Perhaps it is my natural inquisition to interview people, but over the years, while traveling on a plane across country or sitting on a patio at a coffee shop, I have had several pleasant conversations that have shaped my life in one way or another. On a recent flight to Phoenix, I was chatting with an older gentleman, and he reminded me of the truth behind this well-known quotation: “There are no original ideas. There are only original people.” What a great reminder, from a perfect stranger. Can you really take advice from strangers? I think so.

In life – and in business – you never know who you are going to meet. Just think about all the people we pass by or sit next to on a daily basis. There are many opportunities to experience a pleasant chat with a stranger. As a PR professional, these experiences can result in new business leads, provide sound advice for current problems or lead to candidates for job openings.

I recently came across an article in Real Simple about a fellow woman – who happens to be a writer – who was equally excited about meeting strangers. In this personal narrative, she tells the story of how she met a stranger on a plane and ended up helping him write a love letter to the woman he was trying to win back. It sounds insane, but this article is a must read, and it might even inspire you to take your nose out of that book next time you’re on a plane.

What’s your best stranger story? Please share – we want to hear about your experience.

  • Matt Mendolera-Schamann

    I’m always amazed at how easy it is to make a connection with complete strangers. Whether it’s someone on a plane, a reporter or producer I’m pitching, or even just a friendly person at a bar when I’m out with friends…it’s incredible how quickly you can usually (accidentally) find out that you love the same TV show, or went on vacation to the same city last year, or grew up in the same town.